Europe may be going through rough economic times, but the grass still seems greener in Britain for some athletes who are competing in London this summer.
Seven Cameroon Olympians have disappeared and are suspected of attempting to stay in Britain for economic reasons.
Soccer player Drusille Ngako was the first to go missing, and she was followed by swimmer Paul Ekane Edingue and five boxers, the BBC reported.
“What began as rumor has finally turned out to be true,” Team Cameroon mission head David Ojong said.
It’s far from the first time that visiting athletes have sought to stay in a host country.
Several Sudanese runners have already sought asylum in British police stations during these games.
Australian authorities prepared for asylum applications from athletes in 2000, but they warned that permission to stay would not be granted leniently, according to the Canberra Times. The entire Romanian junior world wrestling team sought refuge during a 1999 Olympic test event, the Australian reported.
A Shiite Iraqi weightlifter defected in Atlanta in 1996, fleeing persecution under Saddam Hussein’s regime. Five Cuban soccer players fled their hotel in Tampa during an Olympic qualifier in 2008, wearing only the clothes on their backs, and said they wanted to play for a South Florida team instead.
In 1988, a Romanian athlete requested political asylum during the Calgary Winter Olympics. Canadian authorities had gone so far as to set up a hotline for people with immigration questions during the games, leading the Soviet team to complain that the measure would only encourage more athletes to defect, the Globe and Mail wrote at the time.
Here are the profiles of the other missing athletes, using screenshots from London2012.com:
Click here to see photos of the Middle East’s female Olympians:
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